What Is a Promotion?

In terms of a career, promotion refers to advancing an employee's rank or position in a hierarchical structure. In marketing, promotion refers to a different sort of advancement. A sales promotion entails the features—via advertising or a discounted price—of a particular product or service. Product promotions can also be classified as "sales" or "specials."

Key Takeaways

  • A promotion can refer to the advancement of an employee's position, creating awareness around certain product deals, or creating buzz around little-known stocks.
  • Promotions are applied frequently in the marketing sector.
  • The term is used differently in different contexts, the most popular being a job promotion.
  • In investments, a promotion creates awareness of little-known stocks in the hope of increasing demand and the price of the stock.
  • Promotion marketing materials can include t-shirts, postcards, and keychains. These items are often called "swag" in the marketing world.

Understanding Promotions

A promotion can occur in a variety of ways from business, marketing, and careers. Companies and small businesses often use product promotions as a marketing tool to bring in customers. The promotion of a product is designed to shine attention to a new brand or a certain item. For example, a marketing promotion can introduce a special food item in a restaurant or a buy-one-get-sale at a supermarket.

When a career promotion occurs, usually not only a title changes, but often a salary bump. According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the average raise for a performance-based promotion at work is approximately 3.0% or an extra $1,500 a year on a $60,000 salary.

In the investment world, a promotion is a drive to get investors and potential investors excited about a stock, and creating increased demand, thus raising the value of the stock.

In short, a promotion can mean a lot of things in different contexts.

Types of Promotions

Job Promotions

A job promotion is usually handed to an employee who has displayed exceptional performance or has developed the appropriate skills and knowledge necessary to take on additional job responsibility. In the latter case, the employee may need to work for a company for a required amount of time to be eligible for a promotion.

For example, an individual who begins as an analyst in an investment bank may have to complete three years in this role before being considered for advancement to an associate position. Besides a salary bump, a promotion might also include expanded benefits and managerial authority over other employees.

A promotion is a term used in different contexts; two popular uses are when referring to a job promotion, and when referring to the promotion of a product for marketing.

Product Promotions and Sales

Another area where promotion is applied frequently is in the marketing sector. In marketing, a brand, company, product, or service uses promotions to increase or improve the promoted asset's perception and boost sales. Promotional tactics run the gamut—from coupons to "two-for" sales (buy one, get a second one free) to straight dollar markdowns or percentage discounts.

Sales promotions are conducted through online media such as social media platforms, digital communications such as mobile SMS, print media such as newspapers, or in a physical location such as a retail store. Other ways to promote a business or product include word of mouth, business cards, and flyers.

Stock Promotions

Capital markets also use promotions. Stock promotions are carried out when an individual or a group wants to hype a stock. Unfortunately, stock promotions in the capital market are mostly fraudulent schemes carried out by people who already own shares in their portfolios. These shares usually are priced really low and are from little-known companies with no solid financial fundamentals.

If the promoter’s tactics work and more people buy the stock, the value of the stock will go up. When this happens, the stock promoter sells or dumps all of their shares on the market in classic pump-and-dump style.

Stock promoters use various vehicles to promote the stock, including advertising online, cold calling, and digital email spam. Investment promotion refers to creating awareness of little-known stocks to increase demand, and thus the price of the stock.

A promotion will typically deliver a higher salary to compensate for the increased job responsibilities, and if it does not, it is worth asking your human resources department about one.

Examples of Promotions

Product Promotion

A few months or weeks before kids go back to school, retailers often use product promotions to draw shoppers into a competitive market. For example, Target offered teachers coupons worth 15% off of school supplies in July 2021.

The holidays are another time of year when product promotions go into full swing, and sales and deals promote products in many retail sectors from food to fashion.

Job Promotion

A job promotion is a step up in title and often in salary in a company, small business, and careers in education. At universities and colleges, one type of promotion is the jump from being a tenured track assistant professor to a tenured full professor. Depending on the college or university, the promotion from assistant to full professor comes with a substantial salary bump. An assistant professor may earn over $90,000, but when promoted to a full professor, could earn well over $160,000.

Promotion FAQs

How Should You Ask for a Promotion at Work?

There are a few ways to ask for a promotion at work. You should consider how long you have worked for the company in your position, what you have accomplished during that period, and the position that you want to be promoted to. Once you have that information together, schedule a meeting with your boss or human resource director to discuss the potential for promotion.

How Do You Show a Promotion on a Resume?

You can show a promotion on a resume by listing it as a separate line item above your previous job.

What Is a Health Promotion?

According to the World Health Organization's website, health promotion allows people to gain control of their health in a variety of social and environmental ways that are "designed to benefit and protect individual people’s health and quality of life by addressing and preventing the root causes of ill health, not just focusing on treatment and cure."

What Is Cross-Promotion in Marketing?

Cross-promotion in marketing is when one brand collaborates and teams up with another brand to promote each other's products across multiple marketing platforms. For example, retailer J.Crew sells clothing and accessories from other designers on its website under the marketing promotion called "brands we love."

The Bottom Line

A promotion can occur in marketing, careers, the stock market, and even global health endeavors. The term promotion is most frequently used in the job market to describe a rise in job title, duties, salary, or all three. Promotions of products are used in marketing and business, and in the stock market, a stock promotion is used to boost the sale of little-known stocks.

Article Sources

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employment Cost Index-June 2021." Accessed Aug. 6, 2021.

  2. All Things "Target Offers Teachers Coupons for 15% Off School Supplies Through the End of July." Accessed Aug. 7, 2021.

  3. Inside Higher Ed. "Professor Pay Is Flat-Again." Accessed Aug. 7, 2021.

  4. World Health Organization. "Health Promotion." Accessed Aug. 7, 2021.

  5. J.Crew. "Brands We Love." Accessed Aug. 7, 2021.

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